AN HGV driver has been given an instant jail sentence of nearly five months after a roadside breath test revealed him to be more than three times the legal alcohol limit while driving on the M5 motorway in Somerset.

Ihar Shynkevich, aged 35, was pulled over by Special Constables Danny Hopkins and Kalvin Mackenzie on the afternoon of Monday, February 5, following a 999 call from a concerned motorist who saw his lorry being driven erratically behind him.

The two officers located Shynkevich’s vehicle and followed it, recording dashcam footage showing the lorry, which was carrying cargo weighing more than 21 tonnes, veering between lanes and narrowly avoiding a car which was joining the northbound carriageway at junction 22.

Shynkevich was pulled over at Sedgemoor Services where he was arrested after failing a roadside breath test and was subsequently charged with driving a motor vehicle while over the prescribed alcohol limit.

He appeared in court the following day and was sentenced by magistrates to 19 weeks imprisonment, and he was also disqualified from driving for 1,163 days, which is more than three years and two months.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary roads policing Acting Insp Stephen Whatley said: “Considering the size of Shynkevich’s vehicle, the weight of the load he was carrying, and the manner of his driving on a busy stretch of carriageway, there could easily have been a major collision on the M5 that afternoon.

“Fortunately, this was avoided and a dangerous driver has now been taken off the roads thanks to a report from a member of the public.

“Given the seriousness of the circumstances, a custodial sentence is appropriate and welcomed.”

Acting Insp Whatley said so far in 2024, there had been 255 arrests for drink-driving and 153 arrests for drug-driving in the Avon and Somerset force’s area, a total of 408 arrests in just over eight weeks.

By comparison, 324 drivers were arrested during the police’s annual winter operation to target drink and drug drivers during last December.

Chief Inspector Rob Cheeseman, head of roads policing, said: "The arrest data for the first eight weeks of 2024 shows that drink and drug driving remains a major problem on our roads, despite the well-known risks.

"It should also dispel the misconception that enforcement activity only goes on during the Christmas period when media attention peaks.

“To be clear, those who make the reckless choice to drink or drug drive, day or night, should expect to get caught.

"I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our teams - including the Special Constabulary, who volunteer their time, who are all working tirelessly to keep our roads safe."

Reports of drink/drug drivers can be made online here, or by calling 101.

Alternatively, reports can be made anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Police advice is that if somebody is currently driving under the influence of drink or drugs, people should always call 999.

Key facts about the effects and potential consequences of drink and drug driving is available here.